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Doctoral dissertation project of Kurt Malcher

Prominence relations and voice in western Austronesian languages and languages of Mesoamerica (working title)

The aim of this project is to investigate the similarities and differences of voice alternations in western Austronesian languages (i.e., Formosan languages and the Malayo-Polynesian languages excluding the Oceanic branch), and languages of Mesoamerica, focusing on languages spoken to the south of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The project is conceived as complementing and extending the investigation to be carried out in the research project “Prominence-related structures in Austronesian symmetrical voice languages” (project B05 in the Collaborative Research Centre 1252 “Prominence in Language”).

A systematic comparative study of grammatical voice in western Austronesian and Mesoamerican languages has not yet been carried out. Given the similarities between the voice systems in these languages, such an investigation promises to deliver a significant contribution to the fields of both Austronesian and Mesoamerican linguistics, as well as to the wider field of language typology. The outlook of the present investigation is mainly typological, drawing on existing descriptions of the relevant languages and on the ongoing discussion in the literature in the fields of Austronesian, Mayan, and—to a more limited extent—Mixe-Zoquean and Otomanguean linguistics. The investigation will focus on topics such as the interaction of grammatical voice and prominence features such as agentivity, animacy, person, referentiality, and information-structural status.


Short biography

Kurt Malcher studied general linguistics at the University of Cologne, graduating in 2016. During his studies, he worked on the documentation and analysis of indigenous languages of Indonesia and Mexico. Since May 2017, he has been working as a research associate in project B05 “Prominence-related structures in Austronesian symmetrical voice languages” in the Collaborative Research Centre 1250 “Prominence in Language” at the University of Cologne.

Contact: kurt.malcher(at)uni-koeln.de